“In trial and weakness and trouble, He seeks to bring us low, until we learn that His grace is all, and to take pleasure in the very thing that brings us and keeps us low. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. His presence filling and satisfying our emptiness, becomes the secret of humility that need never fail.”—Humility: The Beauty of Holiness, Andrew Murray
A bell buoy rings only during storms. The beating of the waves and wind bring out the music that is within it, so too do trials reveal what is inside a person.
Source: Bible Truths Illustrated, J. C. Ferdinand Pittman
In the ancient times, a box on the ear given by a master to a slave meant liberty, little would the freedman care how hard was the blow. By a stroke from the sword the warrior was knighted by his monarch, small matter was it to the new-made knight if the royal hand was heavy.
In 1799, Conrad Reed discovered a seventeen-pound rock while fishing in Little Meadow Creek. Not knowing what it was made of, his family used it as a doorstop for three years. In 1802, his father, John Reed, took it to a jeweler who identified it as a lump of gold worth about $3,600. That lump of gold, which was used as a doorstop for three years in North Carolina, is one of the biggest gold nuggets ever found east of the Rockies.
Maria Dyer was born in 1837 on the mission field in China where her parents were pioneer missionaries. Both her parents died when Maria was a little girl, and she was sent back to England to be raised by an uncle. The loss of her parents, however, did not deter her young heart from the importance of sharing the gospel. At age sixteen she, along with her sister, returned to China to work in a girl’s school as a missionary herself. Five years later, she married Hudson Taylor, a man well-known today for his life of ministry, faith, and sacrifice.
When he was appointed as the pastor a church in Cambridge, England, in 1783 Charles Simeon was delighted. The people of the church did not share his joy. Many of the prominent members of the church opposed his convictions on reaching the lost with the gospel.
In May of 2001, Erik Weihenmayer accomplished something that only about 150 people per year do—reaching the top of Mount Everest. The thing that made Erik’s achievement unusual is that he is the first blind person to succeed in scaling the tallest mountain in the world. Erik was born with a disease called retinoschisis, and by the time he was thirteen he was completely blind. Rather than focus on what he could not do, he made the choice to focus on what he could do and went much further than almost anyone expected.
In April of 2007 Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at Virginia Tech University, went on a rampage. By the time his murderous spree ended by suicide, Cho had killed 32 people and wounded 17 more. Most of those killed were shot as they sat in classes in the engineering school. Cho chained the doors shut to ensure it would be hard for his intended victims to escape. Panic broke out as students began to realize what was happening. When Cho came to one classroom, he found the door barred by the professor, 76 year old Liviu Librescu.
William Booth was greatly stirred by the needs of the poor of London, and realized that most churches were doing nothing to reach the “undesirables”—drunkards, morphine addicts, prostitutes, and the poor. He set out to reach them with what he called the 3 S’s: soup, soap and salvation. Thousands were saved among those that most churches had no interest in reaching. Booth gave his life for the cause of reaching others.
David Livingstone was a Scottish missionary and explorer who spent thirty-three years in the heart of Africa. He endured much suffering as he labored to spread the Gospel and open the continent to missionaries. This godly missionary once remarked:
A missionary couple once brought some African pastors to the Unites States for a big meeting. During their free time, these pastors wanted to go shopping. Even though they were in a small town, the missionary knew there was a chance one of them might have some difficulty finding their way around or get lost. So the missionary gave each pastor his phone number in case of an emergency. In less than an hour the missionary’s phone rang and one of the pastors said, “I am lost.”
In 1555, as part of her campaign to re-establish the Catholic Church in England, Queen Mary, also known as Bloody Mary, arranged for John Philpot, one of the leading Protestant ministers of the day, to be burned at the stake. When his death sentence was pronounced, Philpot said, “I am ready; God grant me strength and a joyful resurrection.” Philpot walked to the place of execution on his own, rather than having to be dragged to it, and when he reached it, he knelt and kissed the stake at which he would be burned.
On January 12, 2010, a powerful earthquake devastated Haiti and left the country in shambles. Few people were fortunate enough to leave, but the Desarmes family was able to evacuate two weeks after the mass chaos began. They had family in South America so Pierre Desarmes, age 34, used his contacts in Port-au-Prince to secure passage for his parents, two brothers and their families, and three cousins—nine in all—to fly south. They arrived in Santiago, Chile on January 23rd and encountered one of the worst earthquakes in history just a month later on February 27th.
“I compare the troubles which we have to undergo in the course of the year to a great bundle of sticks, far too large for us to lift. But God does not require us to carry the whole at once. He mercifully unties the bundle, and gives us first one stick, which we are to carry today,and then another, which we are to carry tomorrow, and so on.
George Truett was a tremendously effective pastor for decades in Texas. His heart was broken when he accidentally killed his best friend while they were on a hunting trip. His daughter said that she never heard him laugh after that day. Truett had a radio program, and each day when it came to a close he would say, “Be good to everybody, because everybody is having a tough time.” Because he knew personally what a heavy burden people could be carrying, he encouraged compassion toward them.
Gold is one of the most valuable materials on earth. It has been used for centuries as money, but it also has many uses in industry, manufacturing, and even space flight. One of the traits that makes gold so useful is that it can be shaped and formed so easily. In fact, a single ounce of gold can be flattened out to cover three hundred square feet.
In the 1800s, a group of women met to study the Bible in Dublin. They were puzzled by the words of Malachi 3:3, “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” One of the ladies promised to call on a silversmith and report to them what he said on the subject. She went accordingly and without telling the object of her errand begged to know the process of refining silver which he fully described to her. “But Sir.” said she, “Do you sit while the work of refining is going on?”
There was a fellow who was about to jump from a bridge. An alert police officer slowly and methodically moved toward him, talking with him all the time. When the officer got within inches of the man he said, “Surely nothing could be bad enough for you to take your life. Tell me about it. Talk to me.” The would-be jumper told how his wife had left him, how his business had gone bankrupt, and how his friends had deserted him. Everything in life had lost meaning. For thirty minutes he told the sad story—then they both jumped.
At the one-hundredth anniversary of the arrival of missionaries in Zaire, Christians gathered to celebrate from that part of Zaire that was once called the Belgian Congo. Near the end of the celebration, a very old man stood to give a speech. He said that he would die soon and that he needed to tell something that no other man still living knew.